indiana jones
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‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’: Indy deserved a better send-off

May adventure films continue to survive, but the latest film featuring the charming archaeologist has left me neither hot nor cold

Phoebe Waller-Bridge y Harrison Ford
Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Harrison Ford, in an image from ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’.'
Carlos Boyero

The prologue to Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny offers no surprises. But there is the danger of digitally rejuvenating the myth, a dangerous experience that did not work out too well for Scorsese in the excellent The Irishman by insisting on using the same actors in a story that takes place over many years, from early adulthood to old age. There was a possibility that a technologically de-aged Indiana would not be convincing. But it works, it is successful. The Nazis, eternal enemies of the charming archaeologist, have been roundly defeated, although Hitler and his scientists still believe in miracles that will change history and save them from disaster, especially if they get hold of an all-powerful dial. The pace is as frenetic as it is predictable aboard a train in which one of our heroes, accompanied by a frightened Oxford professor, confronts the uniformed villains to gain possession of an object that could change destiny. Well, we’ve seen those chases before.

Years go by, and we meet the former hero again, this time on the verge of academic retirement and in a disconsolate state of mind. His wife has left him, the refrigerator is almost empty, the laundry is hanging on the balcony, and breakfast is coffee and a shot of alcohol. All he wants is to finish his class and for his colleagues to stop paying homage to him, and to go and drink morning whiskeys in a bar. The portrait of old age and decline of someone we always imagine as eternally young and invulnerable evokes sadness and nostalgia. All this is fleeting because we know that epic and adventure still need him.

And then comes the return to action to save the world in the company of his goddaughter, a woman I don’t find attractive at all, and a kid from Tangiers who I don’t find funny at all. And in this part, there are chases and fights we have already seen many times that develop a script that is too routine, too predictable. It gets better in the final act. It has occurred to them that Indiana Jones and his friends can travel back in time to save mankind from the diabolical plans hatched by a Nazi scientist, who was hired by NASA after the war. The story picks up with the guy with the hat and whip meeting the brilliant mathematician Archimedes, who apparently made everything up countless years ago in the beleaguered city of Syracuse.

Steven Spielberg did not direct the latest adventure of the indelible character he and George Lucas invented 40 years ago. Here, both are involved only as executive producers. Spielberg has been replaced by James Mangold. Nor does he appear in the script, written by three other people. Although it is, as is almost always the case, a commercial operation of grandiose proportions and one that cannot fail, I would like to think that with Spielberg steering the ship the farewell would have been more brilliant. What about Harrison Ford? Well, at 80 years of age, he is holding up very well. Physical decrepitude has not taken its toll on him. And the aura remains. I don’t know what the new generations will think of him, but the older ones have always liked him a lot. He has that something that is so difficult to imitate. He has played Han Solo and Indiana Jones, a mythology that is difficult to match. Although, the two Ford performances that I always come back to are the ones in Blade Runner and Witness. And long may adventure films continue to survive. There are some formidable films in that genre, but Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny left me neither hot nor cold. I am eager to soak up memorable adventures again. Such as those that occur in the wonderful The Man who would be King and The Wind and the Lion.


Director: James Mangold.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Mads Mikkelsen, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas, Boyd Holbrook.
Genre: Adventure. United States, 2023.
Duration: 154 minutes.
Premiere: June 28.

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